Designing Mobile User Onboarding Flow: Do’s And Don’ts

We talked before about User Onboarding, but we need to emphasize this essential aspect of user experience since it is a stage overlooked by so many app owners. It is important to pay attention to this element as part of our complex plan to not only acquiring new users but to engage them in the same time. Remember, Building A Sustainable Mobile Growth With User Acquisition And Retention! This became a real challenge and Localytics proves this fact with a recent update to the famous annual app user retention study. Unfortunately, the percentage of customers who abandon an app after one use has grown from 23% to 24%.

4 Common Mistakes Of Mobile Onboarding

That being said, let’s see what exactly determine users to leave your app.

1. Long And Boring Walkthroughs

People are expecting to jump to action from the beginning. Nobody likes to wait until you finish what you have to say. Because they just downloaded your app they should know what it does by now. That’s why they pressed the Install button after all. It is time to allow them to use it without describing it. For this reason app stores have their own app description sections. If you want to show them how to complete the main actions inside your app try to avoid using too much text and concentrate your efforts on interactive creatives. Don’t forget that onboarding is the first stage you need to pass for engaging your users.

Image Source: http://www.userzoom.com/mobile-usability-testing/onboarding-mobile-apps-dos-and-donts/

 

2. Filling The Screen With Coach Marks

Another terrible mistake when you are trying to explain an activity inside your app is to attack your users with all kinds of hints and with all sorts of messages hoping that they will understand at least half of your instructions. They will get more confused than they were at the beginning and they will decipher just one thing: the reason why they should uninstall your app as quickly as possible.

Image Source: http://www.mobile-patterns.com/coach-marks

 

3. Empty Dead – Ends

Leaving users at some point in the middle of your presentation with no directions for further actions is the worst thing you can do. If you start to describe the most important parts of your app you must do it until you are sure that users understand what to do next. Otherwise forget about creating a walkthrough all together and you can just let them following their intuition in using your app. You will have better results than abandoning them somewhere inside your onboarding flow.

Image Source: https://www.division1.ca/blog/User-Interface-and-Graphic-Design/App-Design-and-User-Onboarding—The-Bread-and-Butter-of-UX/800944582

 

4. Forcing Users To Sign Up

Think about the following scenario. You are out on your first date with the person you are interested in. What do you do? You don’t ruin your relationship before it even starts by asking too many questions. You just reveal your qualities one by one hopping to impress him / her and postponing your interrogation for future rendezvous. Going back to mobile world take a look at the impact of a great onboarding experience versus the image created by apps asking for Sign Up on first session. If you want personal information from the start you can be sure that your app will be in that category where 17% of apps are abandoned after the first use.

8 Best Practices of Onboarding Design

Designing a suitable walkthrough is even more necessary with the complexity of current apps reaching higher levels now more than ever.

1. Interactive Onboarding

First of all, you should ask yourself how to remove the feeling that your app is just a banal one which has nothing remarkable to offer and what is the best way to teach your customers how to use your app without being boring and ordinary. Adding some introductory animations is the best solution in making an unforgettable first impression. Just take a look at this example.

2. Provide Micro Experience

Allow users to play for a while with your app because it is known the fact that people learn best by doing. On the other hand, if your app needs too many instructions then you should consider changing your approach regarding user interface.

Image Source: https://www.pinterest.com/skalniak/ui-mobile-app-onboarding/

 

3. Skipping Walkthroughs

Keep your onboarding flow short and precise. Reading a story when they first open your app is not something users will appreciate. You can expect that they already downloaded your competition’s app by the time you finish your presentation. In case they know what to do or they want to exit the helping section you need to provide them this facility.

Image Source: https://www.pinterest.com/RayiChen/ui-onboarding-walkthrough/

 

4. Present Coach Marks One By One

A useful approach in sending different message to your users is to display coach marks in different places of your app. The condition is to show them only in primary actions and just one at a time. Concentrate your small tutorial on the core functions of your app. If you go into details presenting obvious information users will get bored and you will lose them because of the lengthy process.

Image Source: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/178244097729276189/

 

5. Make Use Of Blank Screens

Blank spaces make everything more comprehensible. Don’t crowd all your explanations on a single page. After you finish the walkthrough for your app make a step back and look at the results, taking into account all the small screens on which users will follow all the steps described.

Image Source: https://www.pinterest.com/landrivot/ui-empty-state-onboarding/

 

6. Provide Free Sample Of Your App

If your app really requires users to create an account you must be sure that they understand what they will receive prior asking their information. Show them a demo of your app and allow them to interact with the most relevant features that will be available for them after registration.

Image Source: https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-best-mobile-apps-for-e-commerce

 

7. Progressive Visual Hints For Mobile Games

If you have many steps to describe, like the case when you present a game, then a good idea is to create some kind of trace with your advices for guiding the player through your app. The most important thing is to show as clear as possible the next move of your users. If you let them hang in the air, you will see that their next step will be to close your app forever.

Image Source: https://uxplanet.org/mobile-onboarding-interact-don-t-tell-f0c35da2b2b4

 

8. Gamifications

Another advantage in making your tutorial to appear like a small game is that you can convert it into a treasure hunt which will reveal at the end of the walkthrough a small reward containing the main feature for which users downloaded your app. Describing the results of their efforts like a real accomplishment will engage them even more.

Image Source: https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2014/04/rethinking-mobile-tutorials-which-patterns-really-work/

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Did you want to learn more about user onboarding? Here you have it. Keep in mind that first time user experience is probably the most important impression you make to your customers. If they don’t appreciate your app from the beginning there are minimal chances to fall in love with it afterwards.

1 Comment
  • Matt Anderson
    Posted at 02:54h, 24 April Reply

    Great piece!
    If I could add one other best practice…pick the right moment to request opt-in to notifications.
    It’s so important that you get this opt-in from the user so that you can reach out to them, tell them about new features or promotions, remind them that they actually have the app, etc. And it’s also important that you ask them to opt in to notifications *after* you’ve established some level of trust. Don’t ask them to the prom when you just learned their name.

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